As businesses, we face an uncertain future in 2021 and beyond. 2020 may have been the year from hell, but post-Covid and post-Brexit there are likely to be big challenges for businesses in all sectors, whether you’re a freelancer, an owner-managed small business or a gigantic corporate organisation.
As we face up to the prevailing economic hurdles, it’s likely that companies will be vying for consumers’ and customers’ attention in an increasingly competitive and unpredictable market. To reach your target audience and generate sales, you need to market your business in new and interesting ways, to ensure that your brand name is the one on customers’ lips.
You also need to think about new ways of offering your existing products and services, how to diversify your range and ways to generate a wider range of revenue streams. Content marketing will be key to this marketing effort, so I’ve picked six ways to improve your content, your writing and your marketing success in 2021.
1. Blog about your journey and your experiences of the crisis
2020 was a year where we all learned to open up a little. It’s been hard work for everyone, and extremely difficult if you’re a business owner, attempting to run a company during a global pandemic while also taking care of your staff and customers.
Sharing your story can be important. Talk about your experiences and give your customers an insight into the hurdles you’ve face, the solutions you’ve come up with and how your team has coped during an exceptionally difficult period. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we’re all human, we all share the same worries and that sharing those experiences can be both helpful and therapeutic.
So, blog about your year. Tell us the horror stories, show us the successes and let your customers understand your company a little better as people.
2. Expand your social media networks and share more about your brand
In a similar vein, your social media channels give you an amazing way to connect with your followers, but too often are full of bland PR releases and sales information.
Use your social accounts to tell your followers more about your journey over the course of the crisis, to explain your aims for 2021 and to feature more profiles of your team. Knowing who the people are behind your brand is an excellent way for existing and potential customers to connect with your brand.
Pre-Covid, much of the corporate social content we saw was overly polished, glossy and (let’s be honest) rather fake. Try to steer away from the polished PR messages and actually bring some humanity, honesty and life to your Twitter posts, Facebook updates and Instagram pics.
The more I know about your brand as people, the easier it will be for me to relate with your company values and your overall mission – and that’s gold dust for converting customers.
3. Improve your writing skills
To give your content a real zing, and make it stand out from the competition, it’s important that you can write well. This doesn’t mean that you need to be the next poet laureate, or that you need to eat a thesaurus for breakfast each morning. It’s about choosing your words wisely, telling great stories and (vitally) writing in straightforward, simple plain English.
Keeping it simple with your writing is something I have advocated for many years. If you can tell a great story in 50 words, or craft an engaging article in 500 words, then don’t use 2,000 words to do it. Get to the point quickly and put your main message at the very start of your blog post, customer email or newsletter. The tried and trusted ‘tell them what you’re going to tell them’ approach works very effectively, so give me an indication of that main pearl of wisdom at the start, and then expand on this and elaborate as you go on.
What sets good writing apart from bad writing is not the grammar and spelling. It’s whether there’s life or passion contained in those words. So, write about things that truly excite you. Convey your interest in the topic and help me (the reader) understand why this message is helpful, important or useful for my life or business.
There are plenty of business writing traps that we all fall into, so try to avoid the key cliches and make your content fresh, individual and, crucially, human.
4. Factor SEO into your marketing
Search engine optimisation (SEO) may sound like a dark art to some of us, but good SEO is vital to the success of your content marketing. If your audience can’t find your content when they search for relevant keywords and search terms, then your content simply won’t be read – and your hard work will all go to waste.
Without some sensible SEO strategies behind your content marketing, you could be simply shouting into the void, so it makes a lot of sense to think about SEO from the very start of your content creation process. Think about the audience you’re targeting, what their customer needs are and what they’re likely to type into Google when starting to research a purchase, or looking for help with a problem. Make a list of potential keywords and search terms and work these into your blog titles, your opening paragraphs, your metadata and your website page data.
There are plenty of tips for optimising SEO within your content, but it’s always a good idea to read up on the latest SEO advice, or to talk to an SEO specialist who can help you improve your content ranking and search results.
5. Use targeted advertising wisely
In the digital age, there are myriad ways of targeting your audience. This targeting can be taken down to a truly granular level, with you being able to target your advertising or content via your customers’ age, sex, location, income, interests or previous buying history – and this makes targeted advertising an exceptionally useful tool.
You can use the tools from Google, Amazon and Facebook to get your content in front of the right demographics and customer audiences, and that helps you to increase engagement levels and push the right people into your sales funnel.
Not all of us like being the recipient of a targeted ad – sometimes ads can be so specific to our current needs that it feels spooky – so you need to use targeted advertising with caution and in smart ways. Target the audiences you want to engage with, but don’t over-do it with the frequency of these ads or the hard sell of the content.
6. Keep a close eye on your metrics
Return on investment is everything in business, and this applies equally to your marketing. There’s no point spending thousands on targeted advertising, free customer guides or email campaigns if this marketing activity doesn’t result in better brand awareness, more sales enquiries or improved satisfaction ratings from your customers.
Track your sales, marketing, brand and customer satisfaction metrics across the year and try to tie these numbers into your marketing activity. If you can show that there was a marked increase in website activity and ecommerce sales following your online marketing campaign, that’s good empirical evidence to convince the CEO of the value of your content.
Improve your content for 2021 – How To Write Killer Content
2021 is likely to be a year of significant challenges – there’s no way to sugar-coat that. But with the right planning, strategy and marketing activity, you will be able to find customers, convert people into brand advocates and generate the much-needed sales and revenues that will get your business through the tough times.
My book, How To Write Killer Content For Your StartUp, has all the advice you need to write, plan and improve your content marketing, broken down across ten easy-to-read chapters.
Do your business writing a favour and read this 101 guide to killer content.
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